Ted Lasso, Rom-Coms, and Emotional Vulnerability

Why is it important that a show about men who play soccer did a rom-com homage?

Dickinson Behind-the-Scenes: An Interview With the Artisans

Meet the artists who brought the Apple TV+ series to life!

If You Like This, Watch That

Looking for a new TV series to watch? We recommend them based on your preference for musicals, ensemble shows, mysteries, and more!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

iZombie 4x01 Review: “Are You Ready for Some Zombies?” (New Seattle) [Guest Poster: Chloe]

“Are You Ready for Some Zombies?” 
Original Airdate: February 26, 2018 

Hi! My name is Chloe, and I will be doing reviews for iZombie this season.

When we last saw our beloved crime-solving Seattleites, their world had just been flipped on its head... again. Zombie Discovery Day was threatening to expose and endanger many of Seattle’s undead, including our own resident medical examiner, Liv Moore. Additionally, a dangerous virus had been unleashed on Seattle that would kill tens of thousands if no action was taken to stop it.

All this comes to a head in the finale (with seemingly no solution) when a surprising eleventh hour decision is made to rectify the mounting problems. The Fillmore Graves Corporation decides to turn at least half of Seattle into zombies, all while getting to control the situation and the narrative. It is a decidedly risky move for the narrative because it alters the original premise of the show immensely. It is a move so bold that, as a creator, you would have to hope your audience is willing to follow along with the aftermath of your creative changes.

(Fortunately for the creators of this show, I am.)

It also set up season four to be yet another creatively ambitious season, and as an audience member, you have to hope that it can live up to your expectations. Now that we are one episode into the new season, I can say that I am cautiously optimistic that my viewing expectations will be met.

When we return to the world of iZombie, three months have passed and a lot has changed. The zombie soldiers from the Fillmore Graves Corporation have turned Seattle into a zombie-run police state. Or as Blaine so aptly puts it, “We put up a wall and 72 hours later, we are living in Baghdad.” It’s jarring to see how quickly Chase Graves has been able turn Seattle into a place that is systematic, militaristic, and cold. Zombie citizens are given minuscule rations of brain tubes, there is a strict city-wide curfew, and the punishment for disobeying orders is a guillotine that can smash heads (and watermelons) into pulp. Additionally, the remaining humans who do live in Seattle harbor resentment and anger toward the undead, and brand all the homes of the undead with large red Z’s.

It is alarming to watch, because it truly changes how our characters can function now that they live in “New Seattle.” When they aren’t concerned with what Chase Graves and his army might do, they have to contend with the aggressive and violent behavior of some of the humans. It feels like a continuation of some of the issues raised in season three, but now the emotional stakes feel even higher. It will be really interesting to see how important these changes will be to the overall narrative as the season progresses. Will the situation stay how it is, or is a citizen uprising inevitable?

Despite all the new changes that are introduced in the premiere, the episode still does an effective job of re-immersing us in the world of the show without it feeling too jarring. Even though the original premise of the series has been almost entirely dismantled at this point, the show and its core characters still feel familiar enough, for the audience to emotionally connect with them. The episode is decent enough, but feels like it exists to introduce us to the rules and format of “New Seattle” than anything else. The case of the week is not very exciting, but that too feels intentional. The episode is far more interested in commenting on how non-zombies who are left in Seattle are struggling to coexist with what is now the majority population. It will be interesting to see how zombie vs. human aggression will continue to play out, and how that will impact how Clive and Liv solve cases.

Additionally, now that Seattle is predominately filled with zombies, I imagine we will be seeing a lot more zombie-on-zombie crime committed, but it will be even more interesting to see how it impacts Liv. She used to be a lot more useful in solving crimes when she was one of the only zombies living in Seattle. Her ability to have visions made her an invaluable part of the police force, but now that the Fillmore Graves soldiers are in charge of enforcing laws and punishment in the city, how will that impact Liv’s and Clive’s usefulness in solving crime? The first case of the season is ultimately unmemorable, but maybe that is a good thing because it gives us more time to explore the other narrative threads in the episode.

Elsewhere in the episode, we get to see how the changes in “New Seattle” are impacting the rest of our core characters. While I am not completely sure what they are trying to do with Ravi this season, I did appreciate getting to see how he acts during his “time of the month.” He has always provided witty banter with Liv, but was particularly endearing and funny whilst on “nudist brain.” Whether he will be able to finally procure a zombie vaccine that works remains to be seen, but in the meantime I will enjoy seeing this new version of Ravi.

While I am not always too pleased with Major as a character (I think that he is largely selfish and myopic) I like that he is returning to his roots as a youth counselor. His commitment to helping at-risk kids is one of the only things that has ever given Major any real integrity. While I have concerns about him recruiting homeless zombie teens into Chase Grave’s army, I am hoping that he will decide to do more than just insure that they have enough food to eat, and that he will be willing to make some sacrifices if it means that these kids will benefit. It definitely opens the season up for an interesting Major Lilywhite storyline, and as much as I dislike him as a character, I would welcome the change.

This episode also gives us the return of “evil” Blaine. He has been characterized as the central antagonist since the beginning of the series, and David Anders plays manipulative and ruthless so well, so I appreciate seeing this side of his personality again. Blaine’s storyline felt largely sidelined during season three in favor of both the Fillmore Graves and “Fringe Group Zombie Haters” storylines. Just because a new oppressive force comes into the picture doesn’t mean that the other ones have to disappear, and that is what it felt like they were doing last season with Blaine. Blaine’s whole “memory loss” charade made him appear weak and quite frankly less appealing as a character. I am not interested in a reformed Blaine, because I think that his general lack of a moral compass works well in parallel to Clive and Ravi’s characterization. While I understand that it is harder to find room in the narrative for a character that has very few redeeming qualities, I still think that Blaine has room to evolve within the new framework of the show.

While the episode does a lot for most of our characters, it continues to neglect other ones. Peyton’s storylines always feel like an afterthought, and I no longer appreciate when she is on screen. She is underdeveloped and Aly Michalka is criminally underutilized in the role. Unless they can find a way to reintegrate her into the central storyline, I unfortunately don’t see the usefulness in having her around anymore.

Additionally, while it seems like a petty gripe, I have never appreciated Dale Bozzio as a character. She is played in an over-the-top manner which only serves to emphasize her condescending nature. While I am interested to see how being a zombie impacts her relationship with Clive, ultimately I think that he could do better than her. I am far more interested in seeing how Clive’s and Liv’s working relationship and friendship continue to progress now that so much has changed in their environment.

As has been reported on other sites, and then emphasized in the new opening credits, Blaine’s father is now a main character. The credits dub him as “The Prophet,” and his actions in the premiere seem to indicate that he now has a religious zeal. My question is: how does that fit into the current narrative of season four? While it is too early to adequately comment on this new characterization, so far it is leaving me frustrated and confused. I never valued Blaine’s father as a character to begin with, and unless his role as “the prophet” amounts to something earth-shattering, I doubt I will like him this season either.

Additionally, I think it’s important to comment on Liv’s behavior this episode, and largely during last season as well. During this episode, she was rude and unprofessional both at work and with her friends. While some of those changes are the result of the brain she ate, I no longer accept that as an excuse for her bad behavior. While eating the brains of murder victims has always given Liv vivid visions and personality changes, a shift has taken place in how the show comments on those changes. During the first two seasons, we had a better understanding of how eating the brains of the dead impacted her psychologically. She was restless and haunted by what she saw during visions or what a brain “made her do.” Now, she doesn’t seem to care or take responsibility for how those changes impact her or her friends. We saw this presented at the end of last season, when Liv decides to sleep with Chase Graves despite having just discussed being exclusive with her boyfriend, Justin. While she argues that the brain “made her do it” it is clear to both Justin, and the audience, that Liv is lying. We know that even when a brain has left lingering changes to Liv’s own personality it has never completely corrupted her ability to be autonomous. Her decisions have always been her own, so to now claim otherwise is very manipulative.

While Liv used to exist on the morally “good” side of things, especially in contrast to Blaine, I am not sure that characterization quite fits her anymore. She still has qualities that make her recognizable (and she is not an entirely “bad” person now) but she has also changed so much throughout the series that she is so clearly not the person she was before. For right or wrong, Liv has changed and I would like to see her held accountable for how those changes impact Clive, Ravi, Peyton, and Major. Especially now that the formula of the show has changed, it will be even more important to see how Liv responds to the changes in her environment. Will she be willing to confront some of these changes in order to create a better world for herself and her friends, or will she put that responsibility on someone else? Hopefully season four will explore this.

Ultimately “Are You Ready for Some Zombies?” does a good job of establishing a trajectory for the season, while still leaving us with a lot of questions about what we might be building toward. It isn’t a perfect episode, but it still gives us enough familiarity amidst all the change to still feel like it is safe to emotionally invest in the season. Now that we know what “New Seattle” looks like narratively and tonally, let’s see where this updated version of iZombie takes us. I will be back next week with my review of episode two, “Blue Bloody”!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Legends of Tomorrow 3x12 Recap: "The Curse of the Earth Totem" (AAAARGH! Pirates!) [Contributor: Marilyn]

"The Curse of the Earth Totem"
Original Airdate: February 26, 2018

We open this week of Legends of Tomorrow in the Bahamas: 1717. It looks a bit like Canada, if you ask me, just with some palm plants placed strategically here and there. Pirates disembark from their boat, striding onto land. One of them is Blackbeard and the other is his girlfriend, Annie. They seem quite enamored with one another and he gives her a giant emerald which she puts around her neck. But there’s something that takes hold of her, and she’s soon bound by vines conjured by the necklace.

Meanwhile on the Waverider in the present-day, the Legends are tracking down the totems. They have two, Darhk has one, and that means there are two still out there — Fire and Earth. The Fire totem is in Detroit with Mari’s boyfriend. They should go try to get it from him but Amaya is nervous about running into her other granddaughter and screwing up her history.

While the others track down the totems, Sara is taking a little time off to go on a date — something she’s uneasy about. She and Ava meet at a restaurant in current-day Star City. Both of them are very nervous and clearly out of their element.

The Legends on the Waverider soon learn that Darhk got to the Fire totem before they did. The good news is that Nate learned where to find the Earth totem. It’s in 1717, in the possession of a man known as Blackbeard the pirate. Or at least it was. Chances are the pirate knows where to find it though. The Legends discuss calling Sara about this but they don’t want to interrupt her date. Nate suggests they leave without her.

So the team poses as pirates and go head into the past Nassau. They discover a pub and ask around about Blackbeard, wanting to join his crew. Amaya tells Mick what’s on her mind — how she wants to help Kuasa but she’s nervous about changing time. He tells her she should act like a pirate and live for the moment. So Mick spreads rumors about how fearsome the Dread Pirate Jiwe is, in order to give Amaya an excuse to let go. Blackbeard shows up right then and introductions are made. With Mick’s help, Amaya reveals to Blackbeard that she’s looking for the emerald necklace. British soldiers led by Darhk show up just then, looking for Blackbeard. He takes Amaya’s totem. Blackbeard offers to draw Darhk a map to the necklace, much to Mick and Amaya’s dismay.

On the date, Sara and Ava talk a bit about themselves. Sara learns Ava has read her file, and knows about her sister. Gideon calls Sara’s voicemail to tell her what the team has done. She tries to play it off to Ava as fine, but their decision’s clearly weighing on her. Still, she doesn’t want to leave the date — not when they’re finally warming up to one another.

On the Waverider, Gideon is freaking out because she’s parked in the Bermuda Triangle, which is messing with her — big time. Zari tells Ray and Nate they need to time jump or the Waverider might disappear. Or something like that. The threat was never super clear.

Rip, meanwhile, is talking to Wally — trying to convince him to help save the universe. He seems to give in easily, offering the speedster a drink. Rip and Wally end up getting drunk (he drinks rocket fuel... the only thing that does the trick). Wally admits that he misses his old friends. Rip spills his heart about his own troubles too; he wants to make it up to everyone he’s let down. So Wally helps him, stealing a time courier off Gary the Time Bureau agent. Wally also steals Rip his brown coat back.

Blackbeard swears the necklace is cursed. He, Amaya, and Mick are about to be executed but the pirates rise up and chaos and sword play ensues. Meanwhile, Darhk is firing canon balls at the Waverider. Yes, really. Nate pilots the Waverider out of there before they’re all destroyed.

In Star City, Ava is alerted by Gary that Rip tore off his time courier (and his coat) and they’re super nervous about what he might do with it. While that is going on, Sara witnesses the Waverider crash landing and leaves the restaurant. Guess the date is over! So what has Rip done with his own personal time travel device, you ask? Obviously bond with Wally. The pair ends up in Tokyo in 1992, singing "Careless Whisper" together at a karaoke club. I could not make this up if I tried.

Sara returns to the Waverider, and Nate and Ray fill her in on what’s going on. Sara is upset and frustrated, instructing Zari to fix the Waverider so they can go help Mick and Amaya. Speaking of the pair, they are frustrated with Blackbeard who’s suffering from some sort of self-consciousness. Mick declares him a coward so the two of them are on their own. They need a ship so they can get to Grace Island and stop Darhk from getting the Earth totem. So Mick and Amaya go back to the pub to hunt for a crew. Amaya does a good job at playing a ruthless pirate and the others are ready to join her... until Blackbeard shows up. He’s upset at the mutiny, but Amaya threatens him with a sword and then he sweetly offers to join up with her. 

On the Waverider, the team learns that Damien Darhk is threatening their friends, so they’re anxious to get going. But then Ava shows up and she’s not happy with Sara for ditching their date. Ava and Sara have it out about their issues. Sara tells Ava that she’ll never be normal; Ava doesn’t want Sara to be normal. They kiss. About time!

Blackbeard recounts the tale of what happened with the necklace and his "Annie." He ended up shooting her and buried her with the necklace, believing she would rise again when dug up. Which is exactly what she does when Nora and Darhk dig her up. She lays waste to everyone, basically, powered by the totem.

Blackbeard uses a portal to get on board the Waverider, wanting to claim it as his own. Ava and Sara have to break up their nice moment to fight the pirates, which they do quite easily. Blackbeard simpers when the two women get the upper hand and offers to let them join his crew.

Amaya, meanwhile, is trying to pep talk Annie about the totem. But before she can make much headway, Darhk breaks her neck, freeing Nora from the vines around her. Amaya fights the Darhks but they overpower her... at least until Nate and Ray show up and the tables are turned. Nora threatens to drain Amaya’s life force but Ray shoots Nora with his nanite gun and she’s hurt badly. Darhk is distracted by his daughter’s collapse so they escape. Ray is wracked with guilt over what he did.

Blackbeard is impressed with the Waverider, before Amaya sends him back to his own proper place and time. Now the Legends have the Earth totem, but Amaya lost hers and Nate apologizes to her for urging her to go on the mission in the first place. She says it’s okay — they’ll get it back and losing it has helped her feel free of responsibility for a change. She and Nate get a little pirate-y with each other and end up going at it like rabbits. Of course.

Sara and Ava have some rum floats in the galley (and the rum is now “Captain Jiwe Spiced Rum,” which Sara approves of). They decide neither of them wants to be normal or have normal dates. They’d rather be themselves, together. So Sara invites the other woman back to her bunk.

Elsewhere... in China, Wally and Rip wake up with hangovers and decide to return to the Waverider. Because they’re lonely, and the Legends are a family. They’ll fit right in, as outcasts.

Ray feels bad about Nora — his pistol is going to eventually kill her. He doesn’t want to kill, especially since he met Nora when she was a child. He wonders if she could have become a better person, like Mick did, if she had different experiences.

In 1717 Bahamas, Darhk is upset over his daughter and Ray shows up to offer a cure... in return for Amaya’s totem. Darhk readily gives it up so Ray cures Nora. She remembers him from when she was a child and it seems to be a fond memory... but then she grabs Ray and tries to drain him. Darhk stops her but they decide to keep Ray, since he may be of value to them both.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Beauty of Call Me By Your Name [Guest Poster: Chloe]

While I tend to be more passionate about television as a medium for storytelling, occasionally I find a film that I am so excited and inspired by, that it is all I can think about for weeks. Call Me By Your Name is one of those films. It is a beautiful and nuanced bildungsroman that is just as endearingly romantic as it is heartbreaking. It is the type of film that demands repeat viewings, in-depth discussions, and will leave one feeling surprisingly hopeful and changed.

Before one even examines the film on a narrative level, the location, music and cinematography are enough to qualify it as great. The small Italian city of Crema is the ideal location for the film, with its cobblestone streets and beautifully landscaped country sides. Having the right location is imperative, because it is as much a vehicle for telling Elio and Oliver’s story as the dialogue. While I have not seen any of Luca Guadagnino’s previous films, I understand his unique style, based on the cinematography of CMBYN alone. He utilizes wide, expansive shots and uses the camera as a window into Elio’s world without it ever becoming part of that world. While some filmmakers use the camera to establish first person point of view or treat the camera like a narrator, Guadagnino doesn’t do either. We are invited into Elio and Oliver’s worlds, but only from a distance. We feel immersed in their story on a narrative level, but never a cinematic one. It is through his use of the camera that Guadagnino is able to establish a consistent tone.

Another way that the film establishes itself tonally is through language. It is an Italian film with French influences, and utilizes Italian and French throughout as a vital storytelling component. Even the musical interludes in the film are of both French and Italian origins. Music then becomes an integral part of the storytelling process as well. Sufjan Stevens’ original songs “Mystery of Love” and “Visions of Gideon” are lyrically and narratively compelling on their own, but become especially important during the scenes in which they are played. When the lyrics “I have loved you for the last time” play while Elio cries in front of the fire, it serves as both a heartbreaking reminder of Elio’s state of mind after his phone call with Oliver, but also as a moment of emotional catharsis for him and the audience. While we can already see the pain, resignation, and eventual acceptance written on Elio’s face, the song emotionally elevates the moment even further. It is easily one of the best moments of a film filled with beautiful and significant moments.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Call Me By Your Name is the way that the it establishes its narrative. In most stories, narrative exists through conflict and has rising action that leads to some type of emotional climax and resolution. While CMBYN has some of that, for the most part the film is made up of moments that are either equally significant or equally inconsequential. The film is fundamentally about a moment in Elio’s life where he is growing up, figuring his life out, and falling in love. It is merely a snapshot of his entire existence. So while his relationship with Oliver is beautiful, loving, passionate and significant, it is just one of many importance aspects of Elio’s young life. We, as an audience, are only seeing a glimpse of his life and all its complexities. It is for that reason that the film places no additional importance on any one scene. Watching Oliver dance to “Love My Way” is treated with as much emotional significance as Oliver and Elio’s first kiss, or the first time they sleep together. Even the final scenes of the movie feel like they are of equal importance. While Mr. Perlman’s speech to Elio in the film’s final minutes seems to resonate more with an audience because of what he is saying, the film maintains a consistent tone. If anything, it is what makes the scene feel even more powerful. It is evident that this isn’t an average conversation between father and son, but within the context of the film, it might as well be. It is a conversation about love and acceptance, but it is also like any other conversation Mr. Perlman has with Elio throughout the film. He is consistently supportive and open, and the scene at the end only makes it more apparent.

The film treats Oliver and Elio’s relationship as profound without commenting on its long-term significance for both characters. It is evident that both men will be eternally changed by the love that they have shared. But ultimately, even Mr. Perlman stresses that Oliver and Elio’s relationship was “everything and nothing.” Their relationship was meaningful and passionate for the brief moments that it existed, but would not have worked in any other moment in time (even if we all wish that it could have). It is important that we as an audience understand that, and the final scenes serve to help us understand. The ultimate impact that Mr. Perlman’s speech and Elio’s scene in front of the fire have on us is one of catharsis. They help us grapple with the significance of Elio and Oliver’s relationship at the same time the characters do. It ultimately sends the somewhat clichéd but effective message that “it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” The film effectively captures that rare and fleeting feeling of being in love, and everything that happens when it falls apart. It leaves us feeling sad but ultimately fulfilled with how everything turns out.

While the story itself is very compelling, what really sells CMBYN as a great movie is Timothee Chalamet’s performance as Elio. It is rare to see in someone so young, but Chalamet has instincts that you would expect from a person with a lifetime of acting experience. Chalamet manages to convince us that he has that experience through his hard work and raw talent. He captures every nuance of Elio’s internal struggle, primarily with his eyes and other facial expressions. Even if you have not read the book the film is based on, you understand exactly how Elio is feeling (be it frustration, disgust, lust, or pain) by even the slightest changes in his eyes. It is evident that going into the filming process, Chalamet not only had a firm grasp of who Elio was as a character but also used his own interpretation and discretion to make the performance more layered. Chalamet commits himself so fully to the role that you almost forget that Elio isn’t a real person. It is refreshing to see a performer who is so dedicated to their work that it ultimately enhances the entire viewing experience. Chalamet turns what would have been a decent movie into a great one by bringing his best work to every scene.

Ultimately, Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful exploration of love, longing, and adventure during a single Italian summer. The film never tries to be anything more than that, which is why it works so well. It does not always feel particularly profound (especially with some of its dialogue) but it also does not have to be in order to still be enjoyable. When the film slightly struggles from a slower pace in the first hour, it makes up for it with astounding visuals and timely music. It is a remarkable film that is bound to emotionally resonate with me for a long time to come.

The Bachelor 22x08 Roundtable: Home Is Where the Heart Is [Contributors: Alisa, Rebecca, and Chelsea]

As the season winds down, our ladies finally made it to hometowns! Let's see what they had to say about Arie and the remaining girls.

Which hometown date would you like to have been on? Were any just painful to watch? 

Alisa: Tia clearly put her all into her date and was really thoughtful as to what Arie would like and appreciate, so props to her. Racing cars isn’t my thing but if someone put as much thought into a date with me as Tia did for Arie, I’d be all in. Stupid Arie. Kendall’s date terrified me. You wouldn’t find me anywhere near taxidermy, let alone “creating” it with empty animal skins and that Play-Doh looking stuff. Gross.

Rebecca: I agree with Alisa — I’m not a racing person, but she is the only one who incorporated her interests and Arie’s interests into a really special and personalized date. I love Kendall, but she still scares me a little bit. Becca’s family seems really great. Uncle Gary is a delight and I’m so happy that Becca has someone she can turn to as a father figure. I honestly don’t even remember Lauren B.’s date other than that her mother was not here for it, and I was here for that.

Chelsea: Tia obviously wanted to do something with Arie that he thought would be fun but we didn’t really learn a lot about her. We FINALLY saw Kendall’s taxidermy dungeon, and it was an oddly charming date that provided the funniest end-of-show bumper of the season.  Becca’s was a super cute date that was fun and provided time to bond. It’s really the only date of the bunch I would like to go on. I have no recollection of Lauren B.’s date at all — only her quiet, scary family. I’m going to assume it was a boring date, which is painful to me but perfect for Arie!

We got to meet Kylie and Uncle Gary this week. Which family would you want to adopt you? Which one would you avoid at Thanksgiving? 

Alisa: I thought all the families were truly lovely. Uncle Gary was like a big papa bear and it just made my heart happy that he stepped in for Becca like that after her father died. Kylie was so observant and thoughtful in her analysis of Kendall and Arie. She just struck me as really intelligent and level-headed. And can we talk about Lauren’s mom?! Her responding “Hmmm” to everything Arie said was perfection. She was not here for this show or his nonsense. I’d happily be adopted by any of those families.

Rebecca: I wouldn’t mind being adopted by any of the families! They all seem really kind and really care about their sister/daughter/niece/friend etc. who went on the show. As I mentioned above, Uncle Gary seems like a wonderful guy, and I’d love to have him in my own family! Kylie did ask really wonderful questions, ones that I’m surprised no other families thought to ask.

Chelsea: Kylie and Uncle Gary did not disappoint. Kylie asked all the right questions and was trying so hard to protect Kendall from heartbreak. Both twins are so thoughtful and intelligent about this whole process, and I just want to see more of them. But also, the show completely ignored the fact that there were twin sisters named Kendall and Kylie. Not a single Kardashian joke, and that has to be the most shocking thing all season.

I really did love Becca’s family, but they really seemed a lot like my own — tough exterior but really laid back once you get comfortable with them. And Becca’s mom is so lovely and I want her to be my champion forever. Lauren B.’s family just scared me but I LOVED that her mother was not here for any of this reality show nonsense.

Were you surprised to see Tia leave this week? Do you think she’ll be the next Bachelorette? If not her, than who? 

Alisa: I was really surprised that Tia left! I thought for sure Kendall would be going home after the taxidermy date, especially when the only thing Arie could think to say about her was that she is “quirky.” I swear, if I had to listen to him pronounce it “cork-ee” one more time, I would’ve thrown something. As for next Bachelorette, I just have this feeling that Becca is going to get that title. She’s such a super sweet, bland vanilla, and I think after so much pushback on the last two Bachelor choices, the producers are looking for an easy (albeit boring) win.

Rebecca: I was certain Kendall would go home as well! I thought Tia would make it to the final two. I would love to see a Tia Bachelorette, but I think it will be Becca, too. I feel bad for anyone who gets selected though because they have to follow Rachel, who is objectively the best one the show has ever had.

Chelsea: I really thought Kendall would be going home after hometowns and was a little shocked it turned out to be Tia. I think Tia is really gunning to be Bachelorette at this point but I don’t think she’s a lock. Maybe because I think she’d be more fun in Paradise and don’t really want her to have that position. My personal favorites in no particular order are Kendall, Becca, Bibiana, Caroline, Seinne, or Stassi. There are a lot of great options this year, but I think Becca will get it in the end.

Women Tell All is this Sunday! Who are you excited to see return? Who do you want to confront Arie? Are we going to have to revisit the Krystal of it all? 

Alisa: Ugh, I’m so over Krystal. I feel like she’s just going to dredge up all the same old tired stuff. She’s not original with her villainy. I really want to see Caroline back and I hope they seat her next to Tia so we can get them playing off each other. I also hope Seinne and Jacquelyn let Arie have it about being scared of smart women. I don’t remember anyone else. But it should definitely be fun and drama-filled whoever shows up!

Rebecca: I’m ready to see Bibiana! I thought she was fabulous in Winter Games and I hope she shows up for Women Tell All. I also hope Seinne and Jacquelyn drag Arie — I wouldn’t be mad if the whole show turned into an Arie roast session. Agreeing with Alisa about Krystal: she really is just obnoxious at this point and she’s not going to say anything we haven’t already listened to 400 times already.

Chelsea: I’m with Alisa on seating Caroline next to Tia. I fell in love with them during that dumb wilderness date. I’ve seen previews of Caroline yelling at both Arie and Krystal, so I’m glad my favorite is getting some time to shine. As much as I hate that we have to revisit Krystal, the preview showed her not using her high-pitched baby voice, and I am ready for that mess. It’s gonna be fabulous. Then I just want Bibiana to gush about how great her Winter Games was and how much better her life is without Arie.

And now, the Bachelor Fantasy League standings:

  • Chelsea: 420 points
  • Alisa: 320 points
  • Rebecca: 310 points

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Twin Peaks Day: 10 Ways to Get Your Fix [Contributor: Melanie]

Image result for twin peaks day

“Diane, 11:30 AM, February 24th. Entering the town of Twin Peaks...”

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s bonkers brainchild, Twin Peaks, debuted in the spring of 1990 on ABC where its short-lived two seasons became a staple and lasting legacy across an array of media that followed. Modern television would not exist the way we know it without the presence of Twin Peaks in the beginning of the 90s. In fact, plenty of media today wouldn’t be here without the show’s trailblazing presence. And today marks the 28th anniversary of Laura Palmer’s untimely death and Dale Cooper’s one-way trip to the town of Twin Peaks.

The central plot of the show was the mysterious death of local golden girl and homecoming queen, Laura Palmer, whose nude body washed up on shore, wrapped in plastic, and sent the town into a shocked frenzy. Coop’s subsequent investigation revealed a seedy underbelly to the otherwise idyllic Pacific Northwest hamlet and plunged the viewers into the esoteric and ancient mysteries rooted in the surrounding wilderness and inexplicably connected to Laura’s murder. It was part soap opera, part surrealist film, part horror story, part family tragedy, and all kinds of wild.

The show was canceled in 1991 when ratings declined but left diehard fans with an eerie promise as the spectre of Laura Palmer prophesied she and Dale Cooper would meet again in 25 years. And, in 2017, they did just that. Lynch and Frost concluded their story with an 18 episode limited series of the show that both tied up loose ends and created a tangled web of new ones that, unfortunately, we will never see the answers to. Lynch — perhaps still chaffed over ABC forcing his hand in revealing the identity of Laura’s killer — is keeping some secrets forever.

Back during the show’s original run, the network — in an effort to combat a ratings drop — coerced Lynch and Frost into answering the show’s hook question: Who killed Laura Palmer? Lynch would have preferred it remain a mystery, or at least let it simmer, before it was answered. As it turns out in the return season, the more important question is: What is Laura Palmer? Lynch doesn’t really tell us and instead wrote his own TV show out of existence as Cooper went back to the night of Laura’s death and prevented it from happening, subsequently trapping them both in a universe where neither of them exists and the malevolent Big Bad is lurking. The screen fades on one final image in the Black Lodge where Laura whispers to Cooper a secret we will never know.

After all, Lynch did once say: “I don't know why people expect art to make sense when they accept the fact that life doesn't make sense.” That’s Twin Peaks in one sentence from the (white) horse’s mouth. 

So, with Twin Peaks gone forever (in more ways than one) how do you fill the gaping hole of Coop’s frantic last line “What year is it?” and Laura’s final, iconic, scream? I’ve got some suggestions for you to read, watch, listen to and — hopefully — find some cherry pie and damn good coffee solace.

Laura Palmer’s Secret Diary, The Secret History of Twin Peaks, and The Final Dossier 
(Written by Jennifer Lynch and Mark Frost, respectively)

Best to start with the canon supplemental material, right? The first of these books was a transcription of Laura Palmer’s diary, as the title suggests, penned by Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer. The diary begins on Laura's 12th birthday and chronicles her teenage years, up to her tragic death at the age of 17. It doesn’t really reveal anything new to the reader but it does paint a portrait of a self-aware teenager who both uses her friends and understands she’s used by them as her personal trauma and constant torment begins to spiral.

The next book is described on the cover as “a novel” but is more a meta piece of fiction that is comprised of several documents put together to paint the picture of Twin Peaks. FBI Agent Tammy Preston (who eventually appeared in The Return) is tasked by Director Cole to comb the haphazardly constructed file and report back. The book details the history of the area of Twin Peaks going back to Lewis and Clark, as well as some personal accounts of the locals — where applicable to the town’s history. Published as a lead-in to the new season, it ends right where the original show did.

The follow-up, The Final Dossier, is Tammy Preston’s own report on Twin Peaks, focusing mainly on the denizens of the town and what they’ve been doing during the 25 year gap. Both offer fascinating insight, answer some questions, but still leave the majority of the events open to interpretation.

House of Leaves 
(Written by Mark Z. Danielewski) 

This title is for those who are into the aesthetic elements of Twin Peaks and the unconventional storytelling methods. This novel by Mark Z. Danielewski took me about two years to get through and takes some serious patience. The frame story here is that of Johnny Truant, a troubled young man whose neighbor dies, leaving Johnny with copious piles of documents about a film entitled The Navidson Record. The aforementioned film is a documentary story of an accomplished photojournalist who moves into a new house with his girlfriend and their children, only to find that the inside of the house is a few inches larger than the outside perimeter. The two stories are told through a series of academic essays about the film and Johnny’s own hunt to see if this film ever existed at all. The wacky writing style (that involves repetitive use of color on certain words, backwards writing, blank pages, and other oddities) is meant to induce claustrophobia and probably would not have been looked at by an editor before Twin Peaks. And, like Lynch, Danielewski has created his own macroverse with his new series, The Familiar, told in similar fashion and contains elements that suggest it exists in the same universe as House of Leaves.

Strange Truth 
(Written by Maggie Thrash)

Much like Lynch’s work, Maggie Thrash’s debut prose novel (if we don’t count her previous graphic novel) got a severe critical axe from people who didn’t seem to understand what she was going for. Originally titled We Know it Was You, it was billed as “Twin Peaks meets Pretty Little Liars” — which isn’t exactly a combo I want — this book is about two high school wannabe detectives committed to solving the untimely suicide of a cheerleader. Obvious plot parallels aside, Thrash takes more important cues from Twin Peaks with constant use of satire and offbeat humor to depict and analyze stereotypical high school behavior, in addition to portraying unlikable characters. It got flak from those who took its satire seriously and found the shift from mundane to surreal a little jarring.

Wayward Pines 
(Written by Blake Crouch)

I almost feel like it’s a satire in and of itself to include this series. Wayward Pines was written by Blake Crouch, who not only did not try to hide his blatant attempts to recreate Twin Peaks, but publicly spoke about the inspiration.

We use that term loosely. This book wants to be Twin Peaks. It follows Secret Service agent Ethan Burke who finds himself in the lonely Idaho town of Wayward Pines after a car accident. Burke is trapped in the town, full of secrets and mysteries, where — like Dale — he goes native and joins the local law enforcement to discover more. If you want the watered down, more science fiction-y version of Twin Peaks, this is it. Crouch’s most recent novel, Dark Matter, explores the Many Universes Interpretation that many have applied to the eerie finale of the show.

Mulholland Drive 
(Written and directed by David Lynch)

This film actually does a lot to inform on the tone and narrative elements of The Return. The similarities here go back to Mulholland Drive’s conception, when it was going to be a Twin Peaks spin-off. That didn’t pan out, but the souls of the two works remain closely entwined. It tells the story of a Hollywood hopeful and an amnesiac trying to find answers on a surreal L.A. adventure. Much of Mulholland Drive takes place as a dream sequence, reminiscent of Peaks’ consistent motif of dreams (and the theory that the whole show was, in fact, someone’s dream). There are also strong elements of amnesia in both works, recurring character names between them, and Lynch’s constant use of duality and fractured identities as well as double casting female actors. There is also the interpretation that the Black Lodge makes a thematic appearance in the film — as a looming place of evil and consequence for character actions — as well as the origin for certain, seemingly omnipotent characters in the film.

Welcome to Night Vale 
(Created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor)

This is probably the most famous podcast in the world at this point. It’s a set of news and weather updates from a Cecil Palmer, a DJ at a local radio show in Southwestern town of Night Vale. Are you already seeing the homages? The idea behind the show was a town where “all conspiracy theories are real” and it’s played to mainly comedic effect as various news updates reflect overarching plots and recurring characters continue to further various B-plots. The show certainly has the otherworldly elements of Twin Peaks and a charismatic everyman to lead us through it, helming the broadcasts. It even has its own supplementary material in the form of two novels set in the fictional town.

Bates Motel 
(Created by Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, and Anthony Cipriano)

This is another piece of media where the creators have straight-up admitted their Twin Peaks love coming through the scripts. In fact, the creators of this show referred to this as their attempt to make “the other 70” episodes of Twin Peaks that never were. That being said, it goes for only one dimension of the show: the hidden dangers of a small, remote town. This show — as the title might suggest — is set in the world of Psycho, looking at the adolescence and young adulthood of Norman Bates while his mother was still alive. It’s set in the Pacific Northwest and deals with many of the same issues as Twin Peaks: drug running, corrupt law enforcement, rebellious and criminal teenagers, webs of secrets in the town infrastructure, the threat of isolation, gruesome murders. There are no supernatural elements here, but plenty of demons of the mental variety as Norman slips farther and farther into his own psychosis to become that charming fellow we all know and love from Hitchcock’s film.

(Created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa)

I’m gonna be honest: I can’t stand Riverdale, but it’s another show that has taken on some very obvious Peaks hats and worn them to some critical success. The show is based on the original Archie comics with a nihilistic, 21st-century lens depicting our classic characters as sexually active teenagers ridden with stress, angst, and dangerous secrets. It’s basically Twin Peaks for modern day teeny-boppers and they are just eating it up. It takes that whole seedy underbelly thing and makes it very meta, portraying our traditional G-rated bubblegum characters as modern teens with various iterations of Laura Palmer’s own messed-up double life. And, like Twin Peaks, it begins with a shocking murder.

Hotel Room 
(Created by Monty Montgomery and David Lynch)

This short-lived HBO miniseries came on the heels of Twin Peaks in 1993 and is pretty classic Lynch. It takes place in the same hotel room, across different decades, with various characters to create a wacky and unsettling anthology series. The decades don’t go in chronological order, the bellhop and the maid are both ageless and appear in all three episodes, the color scheme is reminiscent of Peaks. Lynch had hopes the one-night showing would lead to a larger series, but that didn’t pan out and the psychological drama was forever relegated to its original 90 minutes. Much like Mulholland Drive, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this is set in the same universe as the show.

The Shining
(Written by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson, Directed by Stanley Kubrick)

This film continually ranks as one of the best horror films of all time and for a very good reason. Though author of the source material, Stephen King, wasn’t a fan of the overtly psychological horror of the film or the lack of redemption for his (self-insert) main character, the film has held up as one of the best films ever made. It’s a straightforward plot of a family spending the winter as caretakers for a dormant Colorado hotel, but soon cabin fever and legends of haunted halls begin to warp their view of their new home. This film predates Peaks by over a decade and considering Kubrick is one of Lynch’s influences, it’s quite possible this film had a bit of an indirect hand in the final product of Lynch’s show. Kubrick’s film has several geographical oddities and outright impossibilities, there’s purposeful lack of continuities, several dream sequences, and a mind bending ending that is never explained. Even the color schemes are very similar. Like Peaks, the thing that makes this film scary is the unknown and the possibility that it’s all in your head.


Twin Peaks is sadly over. But it’s lived on in some impressive art over the years. And, of course, there’s always the option of binge-rewatches. And always remember, friends, the owls may not be what they seem but they remind us to look into the darkness.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Legends of Tomorrow 3x11 Recap: "Here I Go Again" (Legends Does Groundhog Day!) [Contributor: Marilyn]

"Here I Go Again"
Original Airdate: February 19, 2018

Here is where I admit that I kinda love the “time loop” trope. Ever since I first saw Groundhog Day in the movie theater way back when, I’ve loved the full array of human emotions that a time loop story can deliver. Think about it: there’s always the disbelief, followed by trying to “fix it,” and then reckless over-indulgence, followed by ennui and hopelessness, which then (hopefully) leads to ultimate growth and resolution. I was thrilled to pieces when I heard Legends of Tomorrow was doing a time loop episode, and I was not let down. Not even close.

For all practical intents and purposes, “Here I Go Again” is a bottle episode — a term used for an episode of television that is produced by reusing sets, and it often takes place in a single location. I love bottle episodes. It gives shows a chance to delve into deeper storytelling and characterization with less focus on fancy plot points. In this episode of Legends of Tomorrow, the character we get to know and relate to is Zari. As she’s a relatively new addition to the Waverider, she’s the team member we know the least about. She’s also the least bonded to the rest of the team, with one foot out the door already. That’s something Sara calls her on in the very beginning of the episode — Zari’s caught fiddling with Gideon’s computer instead of performing the upgrades she’d said she’d do while the team was off dealing with a Waterloo crisis (yes, there were disco outfits involved).

The time loop begins after Zari is sent by Sara to fix Gideon. In her frustration, Zari gets sprayed with “time goo” in the circuits. The ship explodes shortly thereafter and Zari’s reverted to the moment she was fighting with Sara. And that keeps happening over and over and over...

Through all of this, Zari learns to ask for help (most notably from Nate) and also gains insight about her shipmates (like Mick’s penchant for writing erotic sci-fi romance in the seclusion of his room). She’s looking for what causes the ship to blow each hour on the hour, but ultimately learns what makes this team her newfound family. While she’d been so desperate to find a way to save her real family back in 2042, she’d been keeping the team at arm's length.

Because of the friction between them, Zari was certain that Sara wouldn’t give the whole time loop thing any credibility but to her surprise, Sara takes Zari seriously. Why? Because Zari is a part of the team and Sara knows to trust and listen to her team. They all work together to find the bomb (discovering Gary from the Time Bureau stuck in the trash compactor along the way. He was sent to alert the Waverider to the bomb but didn’t account for “drift” when beaming aboard so trash compactor it was!), ultimately finding it in the 8-track of Waterloo that they’d brought back on board after the mission. There’s not enough time to defuse the bomb and Zari makes a snap decision to sacrifice herself to save the rest of the team. Before the timer ticks down to zero, she addresses each member of the team, telling them what she’s learned about them and how she’s realized their importance in her life. It’s very emotional.

But when the timer reaches zero, there is no explosion. Instead, Zari finds herself alone on the bridge. Well, not entirely alone. A woman walks in and we realize it’s Gideon — in the flesh. She explains to Zari that when she got sprayed with the “time goo,” her consciousness ran through the simulation she’d uploaded to Gideon in an effort to find out how to save her family in 2042. So while Zari's body has been healing in the med bay, her brain has been running through a quasi-time loop.

You see, Gideon realized via the simulation that the only way to save Zari’s family is for her to do it with the team. But without the time loop, Zari was going to leave the Waverider. So the time loop was a way to help Zari bond with the team, keeping her on board and in a position to fight Mollus and save her family. It’s complicated, sure, but it makes a strange sort of sense for this show.

When Zari wakes up, she explains to the team what happened and what she’s learned. She confronts each team member — from Ray’s secret about Constantine asking him to kill Sara if she’s ever possessed by Mollus again, to Nate and Amaya secretly hooking up on missions and then wiping each other’s memories of it after the fact, to Sara’s desire to ask Ava out on a date. It’s a peaceful sort of ending that feels earned and fulfilling and certainly gives me the warm fuzzies. I love everyone on this team and their place in the story and this episode really helped underline that for me.

But wait... that wasn’t all! We finish with an extra scene of a remote monastery in China where Wally West (from The Flash) is meditating alone. But not for long. He’s joined by Rip Hunter, who has escaped from the Time Bureau prison. He tells Wally that he needs his help to save the universe. You know — usual stuff. I’m excited to see Wally join the show and hopefully the team. He’s my favorite speedster and I have a feeling he will fit right in with my favorite misfits on board the Waverider.

This was one of those episodes that just reinforced why I love Legends of Tomorrow so much: the comedy, the character development, the emotion and drama and plot — it all works together so well. Sure, things get complicated now and then, but most of the time the complicated stuff is just window dressing. At its heart, this is a show about teamwork and found family. And that’s a show that I like to watch.

Our Black Panther MVPs [Contributors: Alisa, Chels, and Jenn]

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Black Panther has made a difference in the lives of so many moviegoers around the world already. Black men, women, and children can see themselves represented in a film that honors them as fully-realized characters who are both the anchors and supporting structure of the story. They are the whole story, honestly, from start to finish. I loved seeing kids in awe of the life-sized poster cut-outs at our theater because finally, they see heroes who look like them in front and center roles.

And a few of us wanted to give shout-outs to the MVPs of the film. Let's be clear here: We could have easily picked every single actor in the movie to talk about and it would have been deserved. But these are the actors who stole mine, Alisa, and Chelsea's hearts during Black Panther.

NOTE: Spoilers for the film below. Read at your own risk.

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Jenn’s MVP: Letitia Wright as Shuri

Why she’s the MVP: I saw Black Panther twice in 24 hours. I’m not usually a movie person (mostly because I live in a city where it costs $13 for a normal, non-IMAX/3D movie and that’s just too much), but friends of mine encouraged me to attend the 10:15 showing with them — as close as we could get to a “midnight premiere” of the film. And it was amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I went with another friend the following evening. There are a lot of things to love about Black Panther. But one of my absolute favorite parts of the film — if not my favorite — was Letitia Wright’s performance as Shuri.

It would have been easy to relegate Shuri to the archetype of “adorable little sister” or “comedic relief,” but while she was both of those things, Shuri was more nuanced and layered than that. She’s the most intelligent person in the Marvel universe at this point, and Wright delivered a fantastic performance. Shuri was relatable, funny, and also inspiring. The way that she understood the different facets of Shuri’s character was important, mostly because at her heart, Shuri is still a teenager. She still gets excited about the potential to go to Coachella or Disneyland. She still teases her big brother and disobeys her mother.

In addition to having the fun of youth, Shuri has immense responsibility too and is constantly willing to change. Wright’s energy is palpable throughout the entire film, honestly.

Wright understood this and incorporated a beautiful sense of both playfulness and ferocity to Shuri. I absolutely loved her and cannot wait to see Shuri interact with characters in the future. And if Marvel should choose to do an entire Shuri spin-off film... I wouldn’t even be a little bit upset about that.

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Alisa’s MVP: Winston Duke as M’Baku

Why he's the MVP: If you’re one of the few people who haven’t seen Black Panther yet, you might not know the name Winston Duke. But you will. From his IMDB page, Duke is fairly new on the Hollywood scene, first popping up in 2014 on Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit — the show were so many now-famous actors got their start. Duke’s had recurring roles on Person of Interest, The Messengers, and Modern Family, but since I don’t watch those shows, I hadn’t seen him before his unforgettable role as M’Baku in Black Panther — his first ever feature film role.

M’Baku is leader of the Jabari tribe, a rebellious faction that chose to separate from the other Wakandan tribes and live high up in the mountains in isolation. We meet the character early on and it’s difficult not to be impressed from that first meet-and-greet. At 6'4", Duke is hard to miss and he fills up the screen (both literally and figuratively) when he comes to challenge the newly-crowned T’Challa for his thrown.

M’Baku is set up as a villain to T’Challa — and possibly all of Wakanda — from that first scene, but there’s more to M’Baku than meets the eye. In every scene he’s in, we learn a little more about the Jabari and their motivations, and when the movie reaches a climax where all hope seems lost, it is M’Baku who saves the day with wisdom and grace.

This is a character that could have easily been forgotten had a less talented actor been cast. After all, there is a bigger, badder villain named Killmonger played by the much more famous (and also amazingly talented) Michael B. Jordan, who grabs our attention and pulls at our heartstrings as we empathize with his origins and pain.

The truth is, we learn next to nothing about M’Baku’s personal backstory in this movie, which is why Duke’s performance deserves even higher praise because he created such an unforgettable character with so little. He steals each and every scene he’s in, despite the big name actors he’s sharing the screen with. Duke adds layers and nuance to M’Baku through subtle body language and facial expressions, and absolutely perfect comedic timing.

He and Letitia Wright (another name I didn’t know before this movie) were by far my favorite actors in Black Panther. They were hilarious, surprising, and unexpected — and they created insightful characters full of genuine warmth and light that infused this already important and impressive movie with that little extra something. Even though I didn’t know their names before, I sure do now, and I’m so excited they’ve both been cast in Avengers: Infinity War. I hope they get some scenes together because I’d love to see these two talented actors play off one another again.

Chelsea’s MVP: Danai Gurira as Okoye

Why she's the MVP: It was so difficult trying to recognize just one performer from this film when they’re all so deserving and live up to every bit of the hype. While our leads Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan commanded the screen and brought the single best hero vs. villain story to the MCU, I’m going to talk about Danai Gurira as Okoye — leader of the Dora Milaje and scene-stealer extraordinaire.

Seeing Danai on screen leading these beautiful warrior women was a sight to behold. She wasn’t just a “strong female character” where they flipped the gender. She used her femininity and wit in battle to take out enemies in Korea, giving us one of Marvel’s best fight sequence and the single greatest action beat in the MCU when she used her wig as a weapon. More than that, her heart and love for her country and people help turn the tide of the final battle and brought the Wakandian nations back together on the field. She’s loyal to a fault but her loyalty is why you’d want her on your side.

Her character is going to resonate with children everywhere, and become one of the staples of what a true “strong female character” should look like. My only regret is that Marvel chickened out and made her character straight after filming an “exclusively gay scene” with her and one of the other Dora Milaje women. They still have plenty of sequels and MCU appearances to show her character’s queerness but I don’t want to hold my breath with Disney and Marvel. One progressive, well-represented film doesn’t fix a decade of missteps, but Black Panther is a good film to chart a new course for Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

Who was your favorite actor in Black Panther? Sound off in the comments below!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Bachelor 22x07 Roundtable: Road to Hometowns [Contributors: Alisa, Rebecca, and Chelsea]

Well, our ladies are back at it again. This week on their recap of The Bachelor, they discuss group dates and make hometown predictions. Join the fun!

Jacqueline captured our hearts this week when she downed a glass of wine and dumped Arie. How did you feel about her story this season and would you want to see her on Paradise or as the Bachelorette this summer? 

Alisa: I am all about a woman who pursues her education and career over a man, especially when that man is the most boring bachelor in all of TV history. Seriously, Jacqueline deserves way better than a man who admitted last week he’s not here for smart women. All the ladies need to go live their lives sans Arie. I don’t want to see Jacqueline back on this franchise until she has a “Dr.” in front of her name. See you in six years, lady!

Rebecca: Honestly, I had no idea who Jacqueline was until last week, but I’ve quickly fallen in love with her. She has perfect hair, she’s fun and relatable, and she doesn’t take things too seriously. I think it’s awesome she’s so into education and pursuing such a prestigious degree, and good for her for putting herself and her future over some guy she’s been non-monogamously dating for a few months. I hope for her sake we don’t see her in any other Bachelor franchise trainwrecks because I don’t want her to get sucked into the reality TV world. Get your degree girl!

Chelsea: Throughout the whole break-up scene and everything surrounding it, I was just in awe of Jacqueline being so strong in her convictions and knowing her path going forward. Only in the last few episodes has she really had any major screentime, but in her time it was so clear that she is the smartest person there and is way too good for this franchise. She got her European vacation in and she’s ready to bounce back into reality. As much as I would LOVE to see her show up again in Paradise or as the Bachelorette, she really needs to go out and make the world a better place. I’m going to miss her humor and fabulous hair.

Becca, Lauren, and Seinne all got one-on-one dates, while Bekah, Tia, and Kendall had a group date.  Who do you think deserved a one-on-one? Were you shocked when Seinne and Bekah went home?

Alisa: I was super disappointed to see Seinne go home, but I can’t say I was surprised. Arie’s sending the brightest bulbs away because he knows he can’t keep up. I think the ladies who deserved one-on-ones got them. I was surprised to see Bekah go home because I had her down for the final rose and now my bracket is ruined. RUINED. I really didn’t think Arie was going to let the age thing get in his head the way it did, but oh well. My current theory is that he’s just trying to recreate what he had with Emily with the girl who looks the most like her (Lauren B). Good luck, Lauren. And by that I mean run, girl. Get out while you can!

Rebecca: Yep, Lauren does resemble Emily more than any of the other women left, so I’m not surprised he’s falling so hard so quickly for her. I wish Bekah, Tia, and Kendall could have had one-on-ones and Lauren and Becca have a group date by themselves. Becca seems really sweet and really nice, but I’m not super into her. And I think Lauren is just boring. I was sad to see Seinne go home, but honestly, she’s better off without him — all of the remaining ladies are actually. Hopefully Seinne has made it far enough to have Bachelorette potential.

Chelsea: I do think Kendall deserved a one-on-one at this point in the show and I’m shocked that she didn’t get one before hometowns. Right now she’s my favorite person to watch and I would love to see her or Becca become Bachelorette. I’m genuinely worried for Lauren B. and really don’t think she knew what she was getting into when she signed up for this. She’s not playing things up for the camera like Tia or Bekah to get brand deals and looks to be treating this as an actual relationship. Like girl, GET OUT! He’s going to break your heart and I don’t want that for you.

I like Bekah and Seinne a lot but I’m not surprised they’re gone. Seinne is in Jacqueline’s boat in being way too smart for Arie, and Bekah’s age was always going to be an issue. They’re just in different parts of life and she’s way too fun for him.

Hometown prediction time: Who will have the wackiest family? Will Raven show up or will Uncle Gary win our hearts? Who makes it to fantasy suites? 

Alisa: I think hands-down Kendall’s family will be the wackiest. I mean, they produced a girl who is obsessed with taxidermy and intrigued by cannibalism. Despite being thoroughly creeped out by that lovable weirdo, I am really looking forward to Arie meeting her family. Also, in the previews her sister looks just like her and I kind of hope Arie confuses them and embarrasses himself, because this season could really use an infusion of drama. I think Becca, Tia, and Lauren will be the three who make it to fantasy suites, while Kendall gets sent home after hometowns. There’s only so much weird a person can take before it careens into crazy.

Rebecca: I agree with Alisa! Kendall, who casually talks about stuffing dead animals and eating other humans, absolutely has to have the wackiest family — but I think they’ll be wacky in a very endearing and loving way. Kendall is so kind and down-to-earth, I’m sure her family will be, too. I also agree that Kendall won’t make it to the fantasy suites. She has never even had a one-on-one with Arie, or really a whole lot of screentime overall, so I’m surprised she’s made it this far. I wonder if a family of Kendalls will be too much excitement for robo-Arie.

Chelsea: Between the twin sister named Kylie and the taxidermy animals, Kendall will be the most fun hometown. She’s such a lovable weirdo like Alisa mentioned and I cannot wait to see what other quirks she has up her sleeves. As much as I love her, I have to agree with the girls above and I don’t think she’ll make it to fantasy suites but I wouldn’t wish that on my favorite. I for one cannot wait to meet Becca’s Uncle Gary and see how he gives Arie the talk. I want him to be scared a little. And if Raven doesn’t show up to Tia’s hometown, this whole season will be for nothing.

And now, the Bachelor Fantasy League standings:

  1. Chelsea: 360 points
  2. Rebecca: 260 points
  3. Alisa: 260 points

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Legends of Tomorrow 3x10 Recap: "Daddy Darhkest" (Demons) [Contributor: Marilyn]

"Daddy Darhkest"
Original Airdate: February 12, 2018

This midseason opener begins differently than we are used to. We see Star City in 2017 and spooky things are afoot. So is John Constantine. He visits a psychiatric hospital where there is a little girl named Emily who needs his help. It turns out she’s possessed by a demon and he seeks to extract it from. The demon threatens to ensnare Sara Lance as well. Before he can do anything else, Constantine’s busted by the hospital staff. He hypnotizes them and makes his escape, off to find Sara.

On the Waverider, Sara introduces Constantine to the rest of the team — which is amusing as Constantine flirts with, well, everyone, much to Rory’s consternation. Constantine explains to Sara why he’s there, but she insists that she doesn’t need saving from any demons. Nate points out that they are currently fighting a demon named Mollus. Sara wants to join forces with Constantine because they need information so they join him on the trip to save the little girl.

Agent Ava Sharpe contacts Sara and fills her in on what’s been going on with the Time Bureau and Rip (who is still imprisoned). They flirt a little before signing off, which Leo notices and teases Sara about. She tries to argue but Leo isn’t having it. That aside, the team — minus Ray and Zari — move in on the hospital. Kuassa intercepts them so Amaya fights her to give the team a chance to get the little girl to room 237 so they can work. Once there, they learn from Zari that the little girl is not named Emily after all. She’s actually Nora Darhk. She was placed in child protective services and the demon preyed upon her, finding her a vulnerable soul.

Nate goes to help Amaya while Leo and Rory hunt down some drugs to help revive Nora. Nate freezes Kuassa before she can hurt Amaya and while she’s upset at what he’s done to her relative, he suggests they get her on the Waverider before she melts. Constantine, Leo, and Sara wake Nora and ask her what the voices in her head were telling her. All she has is “6,” which is the number of the beast, so Constantine summons Mollus using his name and a diagram drawn on the floor. The demon again uses the girl and taunts Sara. Constantine is unable to get anywhere with him, telling him his tricks won’t work. The girl does an incantation and draws on the floor and the symbol teleports the team away.

The team finds they are still in the hospital, but in 1969. They’re stuck, since they can’t tell the rest of the team where/when they are. They decide to use the paintings to try to communicate with the Waverider, hoping they’d notice a note written on the back. Rory takes over on the Waverider, telling everyone what to do but mostly just because he wants peace and quiet. In the hospital, Ray and Zari find Sara, John, and Leo missing but they discover the symbol that Nora drew. Gideon interprets the symbol and Nate realizes they’ve been sucked into the timeline. Nate wants to try to calculate where the group went, but Zari wants to ask Nora. She talks to her, trying to get through, to find out where their friends were sent. But the girl doesn’t know. And she’s afraid she won’t be able to stop the demon the next time and they’ll lock her up and give her more drugs. Ray is reluctant to remove her from the hospital, but Zari is insistent that a place like that isn’t good for someone with mental problems.

In 1969, Mollus taunts Sara, alarming John and Leo. Constantine warns Sara against letting Mollus get to her. Leo writes a message on the back of the painting but he’s intercepted by the hospital staff who shoot him full of drugs. The doctor believes he’s crazy, given the note he was trying to leave. Constantine warns Sara against giving into the fear that Mollus is trying to use against her. He’s able to ward off the demon and they have a little chat. He opens up to her about his own inner demons and how believes he’ll be going to hell himself when the time comes. He’s seeking redemption. He asks if she’s forgiven herself and she says she hasn’t — she doesn’t deserve it. They have this in common. He gives her a card, something that will help her keep the demons at bay. And then they make out. And, well... you know what happens next.

On the Waverider, Amaya releases Kuassa and they have a chat, grandmother to granddaughter. Kuassa wonders why she won’t use time travel to save her own people in Zambezi. Amaya argues that she can’t interfere in her own timeline, but her granddaughter tells her what happened in 1992 anyway: Men stormed the village, killed Amaya, and set the village on fire. Mari left with her mother, leaving Kuassa behind (and believed dead).

Zari and Ray take Nora to Jitters and they see a news story about Oliver facing indictment for murder. Before they can do anything, Mollus arrives again in Nora’s body. Meanwhile, back in 1969, Leo is about to get a lobotomy but is rescued by Sara and John. Sara tells John to summon Mollus into her so they can fight him, but he’s opposed to that plan.

Possessed Nora wreaks havoc on Jitters. Ray and Zari could obviously use a little help, but Rory is watching a football game and Nate is upset to learn that Amaya is with her granddaughter. She learns that the totem bearer she was meant to protect isn’t Zari, but her. She’s family. Nate rushes in, ready to protect Amaya and Kuassa takes him out. A fight ensues and Amaya protects Nate.

Sara finally talks Constantine into summoning Mollus. Sara is yet against transferred to the other plane and her drawing on the floor shows up in the hospital. She sees Nora while she’s there, crying. She stops drawing the diagram on the floor to chase the sound. She finds the girl and talks to her; she doesn’t want to hurt Ray and Zari. When Zari grabs her arm, it burns and she tells her that she’s “one of the six.” Totem bearers? Is that a clue to how to defeat Mollus? Do they need more of them?

Sara talks Nora into fighting Mollus and — in the present day — the girl is released. In 1969, however, things are heating up as Sara finishes the diagram. Leo and John grab Sara and they are transported back to the year they’d left: 2017. On the Waverider, Amaya pleads with Kuassa to release Nate and she does — albeit a bit reluctantly. She promises to help her, and change her fate.

At Jitters, Darhk shows up and Nora is confused. Darhk tells her that Mollus isn’t bad — he’s going to help her, make her powerful, and will allow her to bring him back to life one day. What he says sounds good to the girl and she embraces her father. He takes her back to the hospital. The doctor heads something called “The Order.” They’ll groom her. So this was basically always meant to happen. Sucks for poor Nora though.

On the Waverider, John is still worried about Sara but she assures him she’s fine. He agrees with Zari that “one of the six” means being a totem bearer, and it might be the key to defeating Mollus. John promises to look into who the other bearers might be before he leaves. He also tells Ray to keep working on his anti-magic gun; they might need it, because Sara will likely succumb to that demon eventually. Leo, meanwhile, decides to return to Earth-X to marry his boyfriend. Sara decides to call Ava and invite her over to “chat,” but Ava tells her that Rip has escaped from prison.

All in all, this was a strong opener for the back half of the season of Legends of Tomorrow. We have movement on the season-long arc, a reasonable plan for how to defeat the baddie, and some good threats looming on the horizon as well. Constantine was a fun addition to the team and I hope we see him again. He brought a fun energy to the group. I’m also enjoying the team-up between Zari and Ray. Plus, next week’s “time loop” episode looks like it’s going to be hilarious!

The Flash 4x13 Review: "True Colors" (Escapes! Disguises! Muuuuurder!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"True Colors"
Original Airdate: February 6, 2018 

“I have so many questions” isn’t a rare declaration for me in these reviews. I get confused a lot. Most of that is me overthinking things for comedic or pedantic effect, but this time... This time, folks, I am genuinely confused. The Flash has thus far lulled me into a false sense of certainty with its predictable villains, most of whom had motivations that could be summed up as “Gotta go fast!” Like, Reverse Flash? Revenge plot, time travel, fastness. Zoom? Inter-dimensional travel, crazytown bananapants, fastness. Savitar? More time travel, self-loathing, fastness.

I never fretted over the machinations of these villains because I always understood that they boiled down to wanting to be speedy and these goofballs were too messed up in the head to just challenge Barry to a foot race instead of murdering everyone he’s ever cared for and making his life a living nightmare. It’s comic books! Yeah, sure, running fast gets you the biggest bragging rights. I’ll buy it, because comic books are adorably dumb and that’s cool.

But the Thinker? This episode really hammers home exactly how little I understand of the Thinker, what his goal is, or why he does anything he does. Even his wife seems out of the loop.


Last time on The Flash, the warden of the prison Barry’s being held in found out his superhero identity and transferred him to a cell block containing all the bus metas the team has found so far. Warden Wolfe is supplying metahumans for Amunet Black to sell, but rather than telling her he has the actual Flash, he just says he’s acquired a “speedster.” Wolfe makes it sound like having a speedster to trade is the jewel of his collection, which is just more of this show/universe over-hyping being able to run real fast. Bro: you have a lady who can bring statues to life and another one who basically warps reality by affecting luck. Barry’s ability to inexplicably stop time while he talks to his wife aside, his power ain’t that special. It’s like opening a vault full of gold and precious gems, gesturing dramatically at one corner and going, “Ah yes, my treasure — and here, the greatest treasure of all... a shiny Pokémon trading card from 1999.”

Since Wolfe doesn’t tell Amunet that the speedster he has is the Flash, the nearby criminals Barry spent this season putting away don’t realize who he is either. But you know who does realize who, exactly, the warden has locked up somewhere? Cecile! Because she can read minds, she’s able to glean the truth when she, Iris, and Wolfe meet. Oh, show. You’re a wily little thing, slipping that new superpower into one of your semi-regular guest stars just to set this plot to save Barry into motion.

Cecile’s mind reading, plus Ralph Dibny gaining the ability to morph himself into people, makes “True Colors” the episode of true plot convenience. It’s a bit impressive that these developments don’t irritate me into hating the episode, but I think it’s helped by the fun of Barry’s prison break plot and the sheer bafflement caused by what DeVoe pulls at the end.

Speaking of whom: DeVoe seems to have lost the devotion of his own wife. I’m not sure if it’s the new face, or if she’s starting to suspect that he’s gone from self-preservation to straight-up evil, or if it’s because he’s now able to read minds, but she’s jumpy around him and shows signs of distrust. Marlize even takes to singing a song (“Going Out of My Head” by Little Anthony & The Imperials) to herself so Clifford has a hard time hearing her thoughts. The one she picks has sentimental value as it’s the first song she and Clifford danced to.

(My personal choice of distraction music if anyone were to read my mind is “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, by the way.)

Team Flash is working toward the same goal, on separate levels. The non-imprisoned members of the team hope to use Dibny’s new power to rescue Barry from getting sold to Amunet, while Barry uses that scientific know-how we don’t see enough of to break himself and his felon pals from the metahuman holding area. Any of the bus metas’ powers in Amunet’s hands would be dangerous, so getting them all free is the best option — even if it means, you know, setting a bunch of criminals free. I guess Barry assumes if they do bad things again, his team will just catch them.

The Wolfe disguise Dibny’s wearing to a meeting with Amunet starts melting, which turns the entire Team Flash plan to crap real fast and alerts Amunet and the real Wolfe of something going wrong with the metahuman trade. Wolfe tries to distract Amunet and assures her that all the metahumans are accounted for, while standing in the middle of his empty secret prison. That means there are... four different plots going, I think? Barry and the escapees, Wolfe vs. the escapees, Amunet vs. everyone, and Team Flash, who still thinks they’re going to rescue Barry from Amunet but don’t realize Barry is in the process of rescuing himself.

Thus, the final confrontation, at which all lines converge, occurs! Barry and his new jailbreak friends exit the no-meta zone of the prison to find Wolfe waiting for them. Wolfe tells them that the helpful CSI leading them is the Flash, and if they want vengeance he’s a far better target. All the prisoners turn against Barry except Becky, who has bonded with Barry the most throughout the journey and sincerely doesn’t want to be someone who causes pain and misery to those around her. Amunet shows up too, but Becky’s luck powers mean any attacks against Barry and herself backfire quite spectacularly. Everything looks good for the side of good.

And then DeVoe arrives, clamps pincery things from his chair onto each of the metahumans’ heads, and... sucks their life force out? Their powers? Seriously, I have no idea. Before they all collapse one by one, they turn and smile evilly at Barry. Dominic, DeVoe’s second-edition body, gets fried. Everyone else gets fried. Just before Barry can save Becky from getting fried, DeVoe possesses her and decides to keep her “inconspicuous body” (not sure how a convicted felon is inconspicuous, but hey) as his Body 3.0 and escapes after killing Wolfe.

Meanwhile, Barry returns to his regular prison cell because he still doesn’t want to leave if it means living life on the run (ha!) and if the team can’t find a legal way to get him out, he’s not going. Luckily, Dibny’s new power comes in handy: he shows up as Original Flavor Clifford DeVoe during a court proceeding Cecile called for and informs the judge that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated. There are so many holes in that I cannot even begin to list them all, but it gets Barry off the hook so... okay.

Meanwhile meanwhile, the actual not-actual Clifford DeVoe is in the body of Becky. He doses the increasingly suspicious Marlize with a metahuman-derived love potion and they dance to the song she had been mentally singing earlier in the episode. I don’t know what just happened.

Other Things:
  • “He always did look smug in those Italian wool suits. Oh my god, he’s literally a Wolfe in sheep’s clothing.” I love you, Cisco.
  • Shrink-ray guy whose name I forgot totally brings up the fact that Barry is a CSI who committed a crime and supposedly left evidence all over the crime scene, and how stupid that was. Maybe he should’ve been Barry’s defense attorney during his trial.
  • There have been multiple episodes where Caitlin says she can’t just turn into Killer Frost, but she pretty effectively turns into Killer Frost in this one. I can’t tell if it’s a plot hole or if it’s supposed to be character development.
  • The lyrics to that “Going Out of My Head” song are actually pretty significant for the DeVoes’ current marital strife.

Grey’s Anatomy 14x12 Review: “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (Inspiration) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”
Original Airdate: February 8, 2018

It’s about time that we get some lighthearted fun back into the hallowed halls of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. All of the doctors are finally getting to some sort of happy place with the beginning stage of the Surgical Innovation Contest — which is going to be fantastic to watch develop throughout the second half of this season. Whether it’s the current patients they are treating or the past still haunting them, this week is all about the inspiration behind some of the craziest, most innovative medical proposals you will hear. Grab your medical jargon dictionary because this episode is much more fun if you understand what each character is talking about.


Almost every doctor is putting their hat in the ring for the first ever Grey Sloan Surgical Innovation Contest. There are plenty of insanely great ideas to go around, along with some interesting character pairings. The first stage of the contest is to submit your idea in the form of a research paper explaining every detail and how you plan to proceed if chosen for funding. Only a handful of proposals become selected to move on to the actual implementation stage, which will then be broken down into a smaller group, with an eventual winner given full funding.

Since it’s really fun to watch how these ideas play out, I won’t say who is moving on. Instead, here’s a brief look at the applications: Richard uses an anecdote from Maggie to create a prototype magic cancer wand that can detect if tissue is normal or cancerous with one touch. Maggie wants to create a transcutaneous charger for LVADs and other heart-powering batteries. In layman’s terms, it’s essentially a magnetic battery pack that would work through the skin without any wires. Too bad she wasn’t around about twelve years ago because I’m sure Denny Duquette would have appreciated this idea.

While Jackson comes up with sprayable skin, he ultimately decides to team up with his mother, Catherine, on a potentially game-and life-changing procedure involving transgender women. If that last sentence didn’t get your attention or make you at least curious about this episode, then I don’t know what will. Their proposal is more than likely going to turn into the most significant upcoming storyline. Alex, Amelia, DeLuca, and intern Sam’s proposal stems from their young patient, who has an inoperable brain tumor. This one is a bit hard to explain, but the idea is that if they can figure out the frequency of the brain tissue, they can excise the tumor with a high frequency rather than cutting away brain matter.

Bailey is on bed rest following her heart attack from the previous episode, but don’t count her out of the contest. She has intern Schmitt playing errand boy for her project to create a better, easier colonoscopy. Owen’s research leads him to a dead end, and he decides to not compete. That leaves us with Meredith, Jo, Arizona, and Carina.


I’m going to hit the pause button on the Surgical Innovation Contest recap for a moment because there is an underlying subplot to the episode that won’t be getting as much attention as it should. It’s easy to get caught up in the grandeur of the contest, so you might not have realized that April and Arizona have both essentially crossed over the crazy line. It’s been a few days since we last saw April giving up on her faith and having a fling with intern Vik. Well, this episode reveals a whole new side to April that I’m not sure anyone thought would actually exist. While I have always appreciated April’s unwavering faith and personality, this new I-don’t-give-crap-about-anything April is a lot of fun to watch. Her newfound snarkiness is pure perfection.

However, there is a lot of cause for concern over her wellbeing. April tells Arizona that she can’t sleep without drinking a bottle of wine and is still sleeping with Vik because it’s convenient. This all stems from two episodes ago when April lost three patients in a day. Arizona is still messed up from that day too, as she can’t get over Matthew’s wife Karen’s shocking death. The events have led Arizona down a rabbit hole of all the previous new moms who have passed away under her care.

Both characters are visibly mentally unstable throughout the episode. I was surprised at how fast this was glazed over because April and Arizona are probably in their worst places ever at the moment. There is a potential light at the end of the tunnel of darkness: Arizona and Carina team up to create a contest pitch about saving pregnant women with preeclampsia. April can at least distract herself with the duties of running and judging the contest, but this may be a bigger story that will be playing out for some time.


If you haven’t realized, Meredith has taken Jo under her wing in every way that you can think of. Whether it’s surgically or personally, Meredith has become very protective and supportive of Jo, which has been spotlighted over the first three episodes of the second half of the season with the Paul storyline. Meredith’s mama bear ways are definitely having a positive impact on their relationship, and they might even be the show’s new power couple. There have been other characters in the past that Meredith has been fond of, but her newfound relationship with Jo seems very different. They have had quite an arc over the years, and it feels like their true potential as a dynamic duo is just beginning.

It shouldn’t be a surprise then that they are partnering up for the Surgical Innovation Contest. Remember that patient that Meredith had to blindly operate on without any blood bags during the technology hack during the midseason finale? Well, the patient is back and leads to some wonderful inspiration that has both Meredith and Jo drooling over the possibilities. The woman has multiple tiny spleens growing inside her from the flecks of splenic tissue that remained after her splenectomy. The discovery is totally insane, and it leads Jo to question why she couldn’t have grown mini more important organs like livers or kidneys.

The major light bulb moment is should lead to some intriguing stories, especially because they might not be able to compete without buying the patent for a biopolymer they need to use for the study. Meredith and Jo work really well together, so my bet is that they will find a way to make it work. There is another big moment for their relationship in this episode that certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly. Meredith decides to put Jo’s name on the proposal with her own, making them partners. Not only does this make them essentially equals, but it also prompts Jo to take a big step in her healing process when Meredith says she can change her name on the paper. Jo decides that she will now go by Josephine Brooke Wilson, which is a huge step in the right direction for her. Jo is starting to accept her past and move forward, which is oh-so deserved.